In the early 1990s, Ed Jansen’s father planted about 100 grapevines on his farm in Juniata County, just to see what would happen.
“As it happens, those grapes did really well,” said Ed.
So well, in fact, that Ed decided to plant more.
“I told him to put in another 200,” Linda said.
Ed smiled slyly then added, “I could have sworn she said 2,000.”
Unfortunately, Ed’s father passed away before he had the chance to see the results of his labor. The demand for the farm’s grapes grew and grew, driven by their reputation for quality and the proliferation of wineries throughout the state.
Then, as happens to many successful businesses, fate threw them a curve.
Their biggest client changed direction and no longer needed to buy their grapes. So, the couple asked themselves: “What do we do now?”
That question was answered after dinner one fateful evening. Driving along Route 39 outside of Hershey, they saw a home for sale. Decision made. Within two weeks, the building that would become their tasting room was purchased.
“It was meant to be,” said Linda.
CrossWinds Winery opened on May 31.
“I never thought I would own a winery,” Ed said. “Growing grapes, being outside, and being productive—that’s what I wanted.”
The Jansens’ 10-acre vineyard is home not only to their grapes, but also to their airplanes as Ed and Linda are both pilots. In fact, the couple built a private airport on their property (known in flying lingo as Jansen Vineyards, PN71).
Therefore, it seemed logical for them to combine their two loves.
An aviation theme is apparent as you walk through CrossWinds Winery at Hershey, which was named for the constant crosswinds that blow through their farm’s 1,200-foot-high ridge back in Juniata County. A rose compass is their logo, and the wines have names like Fly Boy Red (a rosé-style Chambourcin), High Flying White (a sweet Niagara), Perfect Landing (a sharp Concord) and Tailspin Blueberry (a sweet blueberry-infused red).
So, besides all the airplanes, what differentiates CrossWinds from other wineries popping up all over central Pennsylvania?
“CrossWinds might be a new winery, but our vineyard is over 25 years old, and we have mature grapes,” said Linda.
Moreover, they “relentlessly” crop-thin, said Ed.
Crop thinning is a term used for thinning the vine by removing flowers and grapes.
“It allows the flavor in the grapes to really show through,” he said.
He paused a brief moment, then added, “And no other winery has Linda!”
That statement elicited a smile and a kiss from his wife.
The Jansens clearly love what they do.
“Our goal is to bring a mature, good Pennsylvania wine to tourists and locals and to spread the word about what PA can do with wine,” said Linda. “We are in an awesome location to do that.”
First, said Ed, their vineyard’s elevation allows them to make a standout Reisling, a grape that enjoys light. They then can share the high-quality result with the hordes of visitors who flock to Hershey for the amusement park, the auto show and the concerts, among other attractions.
Besides the out-of-staters, locals stop by on a regular basis, bringing friends and family with them to sip and taste, said Linda.
“I expected a lot of tourists, but was pleasantly surprised by all the locals,” she said.
Despite opening their own winery, the Jansens are not out of the grape-growing business. They continue to sell grapes to their existing customers, but their business now is more diversified.
“We aren’t looking for more customers,” said Ed. “Our grapes are already spoken for.”
When you visit the tasting room, you’ll fine an open-concept space and tasting bar, a wine shop and gift shop. Special events, like paint night and sip-and-shop, are hosted on Saturdays, with an event room in the works. Customers also can sit out back on the covered porch to enjoy a view of the sprawling countryside and neighboring horses.
To accompany the wine, cheese and veggie platters are offered, and the staff will work with caterers. The winery also is available for rent during off-hours.
Recently, CrossWinds partnered with Cassel Vineyards and Spring Gate Vineyard to become part of the Sweet Arrow Wine Trail, a small trail along the Swatara Creek watershed, which hosts special Sunday events.
“We have great relationships,” said Linda. “That’s been a very important part of our success.”
CrossWinds Winery at Hershey is located at 621 Hershey Rd., Hummelstown. For more information, call 717-566-3050 or visit www.crosswindswinery.com. For information on the Sweet Arrow Wine Trail, visit www.sweetarrowtrail.com